After He’s Gone by Jane Isaac

5 stars from me

Having read and loved Jane Isaac‘s previous novels, I was thrilled to be offered a chance to read After He’s Gone, featuring new main character Beth Chamberlain. Having read Jane’s previously novels and enjoyed getting to know Will Jackman I was surprise to see a new lead in this book but I have to say it worked brilliantly – I can’t wait to read more about Beth and hey who knows, maybe she and Will can work together in the future 🙂

It is a simple yet clever story which unfolds gradually at first but then fast gathers momentum as you get drawn into the lives of Beth, Monika, Sara and of course, Cameron.

What appears to be a straight forward – if dramatic – murder, soon turns into a deep and murky glimpse into the life of Cameron Swift. His death has all the markers of a ‘hit’, but is it? Beth is a brave and feisty character who puts others first which makes her a truly wonderful heroine for what I hope will be the first in a new series.

In addition to a brilliants constructed whodunnit, the effort put into building Beth’s back story is noteworthy on it’s own. She is alive within these pages and finish the book really feeling as though you know her.

I love the cover too – really fresh and tells you at one glance that this is going to be ballsy female lead in a murder case – pretty impressive!

Not only is Jane Isaac a fabulous author but is also utterly lovely on Twitter. I’m sure she’d like to hear from you if you loved reading any of her books.

Synopsis: You think you know him. Until he’s dead.

When Cameron Swift is gunned down outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer: a dual role that requires her to support the family, and also investigate them.

As the case unfolds and the body count climbs, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets. 

Even the dead…

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Mine by J L Butler

4 stars from me!

I confess to struggling for the first few pages – maybe a different writing style, maybe the sex, maybe just my own expectation – but then, suddenly, BAM, I was hooked!

The further I read into this book the less I was able to put it down. In truth, I read a couple of chapters yesterday morning and then read the entire rest of the book today. It is most definitely a page turner AND I didn’t guess whodunnit!

Really loved the psychology and the legal talk and most definitely felt echoes of Apple Tree Yard. For me, I have gone with 4 stars rather than 5 because the sex nearly put me off the book. Not because I am a prude, but because I almost mistook it for a lesser book than it actually is – I had a horrible feeling I’d stumbled into 50 shades novel, I know it is meant to get across that there is passion, risk and obsession but it felt cheap.

On the whole though, it is a really great read and you won’t want to put it down!

My thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

Synopsis: Fatal Attraction meets Apple Tree Yard. This debut novel is compulsive and will be your new obsession.

My CLIENT
My LOVER

Francine Day is a high flying lawyer about to apply for silk, ambitious and brilliant. She just needs one headline grabbing client to seal her place as queen’s counsel … Martin Joy. The attraction is instant. Obsessive.

They embark on a secret affair and Francine thinks she can hold it together. But then Martin’s wife goes missing. And Martin is the prime suspect. Francine is now his lawyer, lover and the last person to see Donna Joy alive.

As the case unravels so does Francine.

Her HUSBAND
My OBSESSION

To Catch A Rabbit by Helen Cadbury

3 stars from me

This book is nearly great. I like Sean’s character and have a sneaking suspicion he might grow into a fabulous lead detective in future books. Currently though, there something ever so slightly lacking for me.

Don’t let the three stars put you off, I think I am probably being a little harsh but I think there does need to be some distinction between the ‘nearly great’ and the great otherwise what is the point of reviews?

The good – Sean is great, a little impotent in this book but engaging none the less. His nan is ace. Lizzie the crime scene lady – the jury is out! It’s a good, if a little muddled, story and I definitely wanted to finish the book.

Although only 3 stars for To Catch A Rabbit by Helen Cadbury, I will be certain to seek out book two.

Synopsis: A dead woman is slumped against the door of a grubby trailer. She’s on Sean Denton’s patch, but who is she, how did she get there, and why doesn’t CID want to investigate? As Doncaster’s youngest PCSO, Denton takes the case into his own hands, but he’s way out of his depth.

People are reported mission and Denton must work backwards, before anyone else falls prey to South Yorkshire’s murky underworld of migrants and the sex trade.

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Pretty Girls5 Stars from me!

This book is brilliant, clear a weekend, get stocked up with coffee and biscuits and hunker down for a fabulous time, immersed in a skilfully written book.

I used to read Karin Slaughter books all the time (until she killed of a certain character and I feel out of love with the whole franchise), ahem, anyway fortunately for me I got over myself and picked up a copy of Pretty Girls.

The family relationship struggles had a real feel to them, Claire and her perfect life with Paul had a real feel to it. Lydia and her issues, her hard life, her new ‘is he too good to be true?’ beau, all felt real.

My only gripe was with the letters from their dad, they just didn’t bring anything to the party for me – but maybe I’m just not sentimental enough! They certainly didn’t have a negative impact on the story. Actually two gripes, I couldn’t see the point of including the bit about Claire’s explosion on the tennis court either. I get that it helped to show a peak into someone else’s psyche, but, for me, it didn’t fit with Claire.

They are, however, tiny, minuscule little points – the book and the storyline were really good and I found myself late for two appointments on two different days because I just kept on ‘reading to the end of this bit’.

If you are looking for a book that you won’t want to put down then this is it.

Synopsis: Sisters. Strangers. Survivors. 

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin

Dead Man's Prayer4 Stars from me!

I really enjoyed Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin, it is a fab debut. I found DI Frank Farrell to be an intriguing character who really grew on me as the book progressed and by the time it was over I found myself hoping that book 2 will be out soon!

I thought it was an inventive plot, with original ideas and some unexpected twists and turns. It had the obligatory love mix, of course, and a strong lead character with a very troubled past.

After about chapter 8 I found this book hard to put down and look forward to reading more by Jackie Baldwin.

Synopsis: Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood eighteen years earlier.

With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inexorably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when a pair of twin boys go missing. The Dumfries police force recover one in an abandoned church, unharmed. But where is his brother?

As Farrell investigates the two cases, he can’t help but feel targeted. Is someone playing a sinister game, or is he seeing patterns that don’t exist? Either way, it’s a game Farrell needs to win before he loses his grip on his sanity, or someone else turns up dead.

Normal by Graeme Cameron

Normal5 Stars from me!

I grabbed this book on a whim while in Tesco and I’m so glad that I did! Normal is a brilliant read from start to finish and I have to confess I think I have a worrying crush on the main character who is quite unashamedly a sociopath.

I absolutely adored his character and also that of Erica, I felt that she could offer quite an interesting book of her own and was potentially a very suitable mate for him; although they’d both always have to sleep with one eye open. The other ladies in the book didn’t quite resonate in the same way.

I also really liked the ending although I would imagine some people may disagree – without giving anything away, I can totally see why it ended that way.

I will await with great anticipation the next book from Graeme Cameron.

Synopsis: This is a love story. No, really.

He lives in your community, in a nice house with a well-tended garden. He shops in your grocery store, bumping shoulders with you as you pass him and apologising with a smile. He drives beside you on the highway, politely waving to let you into the lane ahead of him.

What you don’t know is that he has an elaborate cage built into a secret basement under his garage. And the food that he’s carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he’s holding there against her will–one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her.

This is how it’s been for a long time. It’s normal…and it works. Perfectly.

Then he meets the checkout girl from the 24-hour grocery. And now the plan, the hunts, the room…the others. He doesn’t need any of them anymore. He needs only her. One small problem – he still has someone trapped in his garage.

Discovering his humanity couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Shallow Waters by Rebecca Bradley

Shallow Waters5 Stars from me!

What a great debut.

I downloaded Shallow Waters after seeing it on a free promotion by Rebecca Bradley, I had no idea what to expect from it.

It took me the first two or three chapters to get used to the writing style which changes between first and third person depending on which character is being focused on. With first person being reserved for leading lady DI Hannah Robbins.

Once the first couple of chapters were out of the way I found myself immersed in the story and from then onwards I was absolutely hooked! Not only is DI Hannah Robbins a brilliant character but the whole storyline and supporting cast is utterly compelling and I raced through the book desperate to find out how it would conclude.

Fast paced, gritty, informative, very hard to put down and with a fabulous building of tension that completely immerses you in the lives of all involved.

If you are a fan of crime thrillers – you will enjoy this book – highly recommend, can’t wait for no.2.

 

Synopsis: When the naked, battered body of an unidentified teenager is found dumped in an alleyway, post-mortem finds evidence of a harrowing series of events.

Another teenage death with the same MO pushes DI Hannah Robbins and her team on the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, to their limits, and across county borders. In a race against the clock they attempt to unpick a thick web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth behind the deaths.

But it doesn’t stop there. When catching a killer isn’t enough, just how far are the team willing to push themselves to save the next girl?

‘A gritty police procedural, with no-holds barred and a shocking insight to the reality of some. Dark and disturbing, yet exceptionally compelling.’ – Mel Sherratt, author of Taunting The Dead.

‘Tense, compelling and utterly absorbing. DI Hannah Robbins is a force to be reckoned with.’ – Jane Isaac, author of The Truth Will Out.

An Unfamiliar Murder by Jane Isaac

Unfamiliar Murder5 Stars from me!

What an absolute gem of an author Jane Isaac is, I am so glad to have found her books and honestly don’t feel I can fault a single thing (ok, except the cover).

Isaac is, in my view, an astonishingly accomplished writer. Her stories are virtually flawless in their pace, content and style.

I read her second book, The Truth Will Out, before I read this one and for me it didn’t spoil the books in any way but it would obviously make more sense to read them in the correct order if you can.

I read lots and lots of crime thrillers and genuinely think that Jane Isaac is up there with the big hitters, she had me led completely up the garden path with ‘who dunnit’ which is a feat in itself and I usually know by about a third of the way in! In An Unfamiliar Murder though I got it wrong right up until the end.

Fabulous book, absolutely loved it, can’t wait to read more.

Synopsis:

Arriving home from a routine day at work, Anna Cottrell has no idea that her life is about to change forever. But discovering the stabbed body of a stranger in her flat, then becoming prime suspect in a murder enquiry is only the beginning. Her persistent claims of innocence start to crumble when new evidence links her irrevocably with the victim… 

Leading her first murder enquiry, DCI Helen Lavery unravels a trail of deception, family secrets and betrayal. When people close to the Cottrell family start to disappear, Lavery is forced into a race against time. Can she catch the killer before he executes his ultimate victim?

 

Borderlands by Brian McGilloway

Borderlands3 stars from me

I’ve been making a real effort to seek out debut novels rather than falling back on the authors that I know and love – Borderlands by Brian McGilloway is the latest one I’ve discovered.

I’m giving it 3 stars as I was a little bit disappointed with it to be honest. The story was slow, personally I prefer a fast paced read but I appreciate that is just a matter of taste.

The book seemed to me to be written as if in an older era although there was mention of modern items so I got the overall impression that it was meant to be present day. And yet the names used for the children of Inspector Devlin were most definitely those of a few generations prior, it was conflicting and confusing.

Having said that, I can’t help wondering if the book version of Midsomer Murders (which I love to watch as a TV show) would read just as slow.

There are a few tenuous links holding the story together and it certainly isn’t edgy or fast paced, but on the whole it is a good debut novel and I’m sure that future books will improve as the author hits his stride.

I think my biggest concern was that I didn’t find myself warming at all to the lead character, Benedict, try as I might I just couldn’t make myself like him.

Synopsis: The corpse of local teenager Angela Cashell is found on the Tyrone- Donegal border, between the North and South of Ireland, in an area known as the borderlands. Garda Inspector Benedict Devlin heads the investigation: the only clues are a gold ring placed on the girl’s finger and an old photograph, left where she died.  

Dance With The Enemy by Rob Sinclair

Dance With The Enemy3.5 stars from me

I feel a bit mean not giving this 4 stars but I’m going to stick to my guns because although Dance With The Enemy was good, I think it could have been better and I’m sure that Rob Sinclair‘s next book WILL be better.

I loved the Carl Logan character, I thought he perfectly fitted the bill of an off the grid, Jack Reacher style agent. I liked his boss and their relationship and I liked Carl Logan’s utter disregard for rules and niceties.

I thought the overall storyline was great, Selim was damn scary and torture scenes were appropriately gritty and awful. Although I have to admit I did feel that the ending was a little weak compared to the body of the story.

I thought I liked Grainger until said ending, not because I disagreed with her actions but because the ending didn’t fit the character up until that point – in my opinion – I don’t want to give the storyline away so won’t say any more on that.

So for me it was very nearly great, I definitely enjoyed reading it and I would look forward to reading other books by Rob Sinclair as I think he will improve and hone his technique in future books and I can see that would make them outstanding.

Synopsis: Carl Logan was the perfect agent. A loner. No real friends or family. Trained to deal with any situation with cold efficiency, devoid of emotion. 

But Logan isn’t the man he used to be, or the asset he once was. Five months ago his life changed forever when he was captured, tortured and left for dead by Youssef Selim, one of the world’s most violent terrorists.

When Selim mysteriously reappears in Paris, linked to the kidnapping of America’s Attorney General, Logan smells his chance for revenge.

Pursuing his man relentlessly, oblivious to the growing trail of destruction that he leaves in his wake, Logan delves increasingly deep into the web of lies and deceit surrounding the kidnapping.

Finally, he comes to learn just what it means to Dance with the Enemy.